Heritage, Volume 12, Number 4, Fall 1994 Page: 11
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hotel closed, was reopened and closed several
more times, each transition carrying it
further from its original, understated grandeur.
By the late '70s, it had fallen into
disrepair and disgrace.
Then in 1979, J.P. Bryan of Houston
was driving around Marathon looking for a
house to use as a ranch headquarters, so
that he too wouldn't have to sleep among
the snakes and scorpions when checking
on his ranch, and noticed a sign offering the
Gage for sale. He called the number, spoke
with the owner and bought the hotel over
the phone, without ever seeing the inside
of the property.
The manager explained that Bryan, a
descendant of Texas founder Moses Austin,
had always been interested in Texas
history and had restored several other historic
buildings, in addition to serving as
president of the Texas State Historical
Association and the Texas Historical Foundation.
He tells you also that when J.P. and
Mary Jon Bryan purchased the hotel 15
years ago, they discovered that although
the exterior of the building was sound, the
inside was a mess. Paints of various hues
pinks, blues, and greens, mostly - covered
the woodwork, and the stately oak floors
were covered with hideous linoleum. The
ceilings had been lowered, covering the
He continues his story. Not long after
buying the property, while attending a
Texas Historical Foundation meeting in
El Paso, Bryan comes across a book about
Henry Trost, an architect who designed
several small hotels in Texas in the '20s
and '30s. Bryan buys the book, hoping to
find some mention of the Gage, but there
is none. Still, the architecture of Trost's
hotels is similar enough to that of the
Gage to warrant checking with the architectural
firm in El Paso that Trost
Researching the history, Bryan discovers
that the contractor, H.T. Ponsford &
Sons in El Paso, is still in business, and they
inform him that not only had Henry Trost
built the Gage, but that they still have the
original blueprints. Bryan mentions that
the blue prints would be helpful for his
restoration project, and they send them to
With the original plans in hand, Bryan
sets out to capture what the architect and
builder attempted to create. He has the
fake wood panelling torn out and replaced
with elegant woods, restores the French
The garden-like setting of the Los Portales courtyard transports visitors at the Gage Hotel to a hacienda in
old Mexico. Massive wooden doors and benches are among the beautiful antiques that add a special touch.
...More than half a century since the
death of Alfred Gage, the hotel closed,
was reopened and closed several more
times, each transition carrying it
further from its original, understated
grandeur. By the late '70s, it had fallen
into disrepair and disgrace.
HERITAGE * FALL 1994 11
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 12, Number 4, Fall 1994, periodical, Autumn 1994; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45414/m1/11/: accessed September 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.